‘Completely unacceptable’: Cyclists demand ‘better alternative’ after Network Rail shuts major link between Hackney and Islington

Campaigners at the closed-off bridge. Photograph: Hackney Cycling Campaign

Cyclists are urging transport bosses to come up with a suitable diversion after one of London’s “most popular bike routes” was closed because of safety fears.

A 108-year-old railway bridge Kingsbury Road was cordoned off by Network Rail just before Christmas after an inspection revealed how much it has deteriorated.

The 1916 wrought-iron bridge on the borders of Hackney and Islington was earmarked for replacement next year.

But Network Rail said inspectors “found the condition of the bridge had become so poor that the entire structure needs to be replaced”.

The bridge was closed to motor vehicles in 1976 over concerns about their impact.

Will Petty from Hackney Cycling Campaign said because the bridge is on Cycleway 1, the main safe route into town for riders in north London, it is causing a headache for thousands of travellers.

He urged Hackney and Islington councils had to “come up with an alternative route”.

A diversion was created along King Henry’s Walk linking up to Jude Place, but cyclists raised concerns about its safety and signage.

Petty said: “It involves cyclists mixing with heavy traffic on Balls Pond Road, then making an illegal right turn onto Culford Road.

“It’s a completely unacceptable situation for boroughs where large numbers of people rely on cycling as their main means of transport.

“If a key route for drivers were severed unexpectedly, an alternative would be up and running within days.”

Islington Council has since put more up more signs to mark the diversion.

Islington Cycling Campaign said the “important link for thousands of cyclists” also serves people travelling to St Jude and St Paul’s primary school.

Campaigners want Hackney and Islington council to get together with Network Rail and Transport for London to ensure the diversion is safe for cyclists.

Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville got involved to try to sort out a suitable route.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We knew the condition and construction of the bridge means it would need to be replaced in the near future and were due to start doing this in 2024.

“We anticipated keeping the bridge open until then but regrettably have had to close it early to keep people safe.”

They added: “We are committed to delivering a replacement bridge as soon as possible and we are keeping the community and council representatives appraised as the designs are progressed.

“When a date for the work to replace the bridge is known we will communicate that information to the community.”